(Leon Halip - Getty Images/North America)
With baseball now back in season and teams starting to play their regulars for longer periods in games, Red Sox Nation has been able to catch a glimpse at just what kind of player Pablo Sandoval will be for them this season. Now we've all seen the photos, and workout videos from the big man over at the hot corner, but nothing beats live, in-game action. And so far, I am impressed with the performance of the 5'11", 255 pound third baseman.
Despite going 0-3 in Boston's 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pablo Sandoval is currently sporting a .333 average (5-15) for the Spring, while slugging .467 and knocking in 2 runs in 5 games. But I think what's more important for Panda this Spring is to show the doubters throughout the Red Sox fan base that he can still field the ball at an above-average level over at third base. And so far he's been able to do just that. In 11 chances, Sandoval has converted all 11 without committing an error. The reaction time seems to be improved and he's moving with a lot more fluidity, and that is a positive sign.
Now for a little perspective on why this small sample size should be encouraging: After 5 Spring games last year, Sandoval was hitting .083 (1-12), with a .167 slugging percentage, as well as no RBI. And in the field, he had already made 2 errors through the first 5 games and didn't have any sort of feel for the position at all. You ever watch someone who'd never played basketball in their life try and shoot? That was how it looked watching Pablo Sandoval play third base last Spring. He just looked so lost it was almost laughable.
Obviously it's a small sample size. So there is absolutely a good chance that Sandoval regresses both in the field and at the plate. But from what I've seen from Pablo in his first 5 games this Spring, it's been enough to tell me that he doesn't only look better physically, but also looks better in his performance. And with the burden of losing David Ortiz in the center of that lineup, it couldn't be more encouraging to see.